"Yo Ghost, you think you could kick off the first verse on my new solo record, so people might forget that it's really by me? How 'bout that, god? Maybe we could also do a few inexplicable dance remixes and tag that shit onto the end..."
Once upon a time, there was an MC who went by the name of Masta Killa, and for quite some time - pretty much all the way up to the release of his first solo album, No Said Date - he was the Wu-Tang Clan's Useless Member. You know, like the kid with the fake braids in N'SYNC, or the Asian kid from the Neptunes.
Then, suddenly, No Said Date heralded a new MK, one who was actually a half-decent MC and not just some ashy-voiced dude mumbling 5 Percent wisdom obscurity [and definitely not actually rhyming]. If you don't remember what I'm talking about, recall this gem from "For Heaven's Sake":
Now all pay tribute to this entity
A spark that surges through the undergrowth
overwhelmin the populace from the entry
The Wu-Tang Dynasty, has emerged
from this elite fleet
I was appointed to strike the vital nerve
Mouths tend to utter and speak empty words
Observe the magnetic attraction as we breathe
Seeds of MC's at these fake ass industry niggaz
feed off, the chrome mic tend to squeeze off
and spray, an array of shots
that travel downwind, just respect pyrhiffic pen
as I send, the minds of the weak
To rise and take power I blew tower-ing over the land
as we stand, expanding our C.R.E.A.M.
A dollar to every grain of sand
Let the mind use the physical as planned
Or gaze in fear and wonderment at his verse from "Triumph," which is what I was originally thinking of when I remembered that first verse:
Now... there are words that rhyme in both of those, but they is by no means raps. Anyway, it doesn't matter, because his solo albums made up for all the badness.
Subsequently, there's now a power struggle for the title of Useless Member, and it is between U-God and Cappadonna. While 'Donna splashed onto the scene with hot verses on Ghost's "Daytona 500" and Wu-Tang Forever, his solo debut was pretty bad and his latest, whose title escapes me at the moment, wasn't much better. U-God, however, made a great case for himself with the towering mountain of shame that is "Black Shampoo."
But luckily for Golden Armz, Dopium kind of redeems his lackluster legacy a little... or maybe it's his audition for a comedy-based band, I'm not sure. It's a bit disjointed, without question; there's no consistency to any of the beats, unlike most Wu solo records. But there are some bangers: the opener, "Train Trussle," tops a driving beat with strings, horns, and Ghostface; "Lipton" is a nice bit of lyrical handiwork, and the title track rides a heavy soul loop.
...we then come to "Hips," which I presume is "the club jawn." And that's fine; it's got an old-school wah-wah synth bass as its bedrock... but if you play this for a girl, she's gonna get creeped out. It's just got a sort of sketchy-guy-in-the-club vibe to it. It actually sounds like it should be an Incredibad song, with a few humorous lyrical tweaks.
...we arrive at the bonus tracks, three inexplicable dance remixes of album tracks, which definitely sound like Incredibad. I can see Andy Samberg chanting "Stomp da roach!" right now.
So if anyone knows whether Samberg and the fellas are looking for a token black guy, tell them to throw on the Felix Cartel "Hips" remix, pop some Ecstasy and then give him a call.
ADDENDUM, 6/29/09: I'm coming around a little bit on this album. I think the initial shock of the techno-house remixes got the best of me the first time around. As a production guy, I really like almost all of the non-remix beats. And while U-God has a neat voice, I think his full-lengths suffer from the same problem as the Chali 2na solo joint... the voice is great from time to time, but after 40 minutes, it gets a little tiring.